20 Billion-Dollar Companies That Began As Home Businesses

By Trista
20 Billion-Dollar Companies That Began As Home Businesses

You may find it hard to believe that many billion-dollar companies had humble beginnings. Google, Microsoft, and Amazon started as home businesses in garages. Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Larry Page, and Steve Jobs have proved that you can transform a bootstrap into a multibillion-dollar enterprise.

These savvy, perceptive entrepreneurs have demonstrated that you can turn dreams into concrete reality,. But you have to be fiercely determined. Celebrated magnates who started small always believed they would make it big. Unlike some people who weren’t ready to become rich, they ultimately did. Check out some billion-dollar companies that started as home businesses via Business Insider below.

This go-getter attitude, paired with an incredible lust to do exceptionally well, enabled Minecraft to create a success story. In this review, we walk you through twenty billion-dollar companies that started as a home business. Shutterstock

20. Minecraft

Sandbox video game Minecraft was initially conceptualized by Marcus “Notch” Persson, a Swedish programmer. It was later acquired by Mojang Studios. Presently, Minecraft is the most downloaded videogame throughout the world.

Persson had a full-time job when he began developing Minecraft. But as the game grew in popularity, he left his job to focus entirely on his brainchild. In 2014, Microsoft paid an estimated $2.5 billion for the intellectual property rights of Minecraft and Mojang as a result of its popularity. Minecraft’s net worth is about $1.7 billion in 2020, and the approximate net worth of Persson is $1.6 billion.

The game has been acclaimed critically and has won numerous awards due to its prominence since it was released in November 2011. Minecraft has been hailed as the most popular video game ever due to its worldwide notoriety. The World Video Game Hall of Fame included Minecraft into its annals in June of 2020. Since its launch in November of 2011, Minecraft has notched up sales of nearly 200 million reproductions across different platforms. As of June 2020, roughly 126 million gamers were playing Minecraft because of its fun factor and popularity.

Chances are good you have used a Hewlett Packard printer before in your life, or other related products. Shutterstock

19. Hewlett Packard

Hewlett Packard was set up in a garage in Palo Alto, California. The one-car garage at 367 Addison Avenue has a plaque declaring the address the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley” due to HP starting there. It is a designated historical landmark as a result. Hewlett-Packard is a transnational IT company that offers a wide range of products and services for the computer hardware & software, IT consulting, and IT services industries.

In 1939, William “Bill” Reddington Hewlett and David “Dave” Packard established HP in a garage owned by Packard’s parents. They paid $538 as a rental for using the space and started by manufacturing a set of electronic test calibrating equipment. The first product they made was the precision audio oscillator. Their first client was Walt Disney, who purchased eight units for $720.

Gradually, HP ventured into the IT industry, producing high-quality computers, printers, servers, networking, and storage systems. Starting from 2007 till the second quarter of 2013, HP was the largest PC globally manufacturer. As of 2019, HP Inc’s net income was $3.15 billion, and the company’s total assets amounted to $33.46 billion because of their worldwide success. 

From Disney+ to Disneyworld, Walt really transformed his vision into a reality. Shutterstock

18. Disney

The Walt Disney Company is one of few multinationals that came into being long before the digital era’s advent. Walt Disney was only 16 when he quit school to enlist in the army but was turned down due to being underage. The rejection spurred him to set up the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio along with his brother Roy in October 1923.

Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, renamed Walt Disney Company in 1986, initially operated out of Walt’s uncle Robert Disney’s garage in Los Angeles. At the beginning of 1923, animator Walt Disney had established a company named ‘Laugh-O-Gram Studio’ that left him bankrupt. He shifted to Hollywood to join forces with Roy. Despite being a mediocre cartoonist, Walt was farsighted and insightful enough to realize what would keep the masses entertained well ahead of time.

He made cartoon films riveting by judiciously blending live-action with animation; exemplified by ‘Steamboat Willie,’ the first-ever animated film. Currently, Walt Disney Company is a diversified entertainment and mass media corporation with its headquarters in Burbank, California.  After entrenching its position as the foremost animation company, Walt Disney Company diversified its profile because of a desire to expand. This billion-dollar company has theme parks, television, videogames, publishing, radio, web portals, and broadcasting. The business’ annual revenues stood at $69.57 billion, with total assets valued at $193.98 billion as a result of their worldwide success. 

Craigslist was a new-age way to get what you need online. Shutterstock

17. Craiglist

Craig Newmark, the founder of Craiglist, devised an email distribution catalog as a result of his desire for promoting local events. He was adjusting to San Francisco, started experimenting with an email directory for popularizing local happenings. In turn, Craig began emailing the distribution list to his near and dear ones.  Word-of-mouth publicity hugely fueled the popularity of the listing, eventually leading to a burgeoning of posts and subscribers. Newmark was pleasantly surprised when he discovered that people were not only posting social events because of his efforts. 

Newmark added a separate jobs index to the listing to boost its versatility, and subsequently, demand for adding more categories proliferated. Once Craiglist was interfaced with the world’s vast web network, it was registered as craiglist.org, and the site was hosted in 1996. Currently, Craiglist is one of the leading classified ads portals in the US due to its worldwide scope. People in more than 70 countries take advantage of Craiglist due to its many helpful avenues, and those living in a metropolis can focus on a particular city area. 

Craiglist doesn’t need to publish financial statements as the firm is a private entity. Nevertheless, it is alleged that Craiglist’s net worth was much more than $1 billion in 2019 thanks to its successes. Craig bequeathed nearly $20 million to a media entity in 2019 that amply proved his philanthropic tendencies as a result.   

Can you believe that Barbie has been around for over 65 years? Shutterstock

16. Mattel

There’s hardly any girl or woman who is not aware of the ubiquitous Barbie doll made famous by Mattel. Incidentally, the Barbie doll became so well-known throughout the world that most people therefore came to associate Mattel with beauty. However, Ruth and Elliot Handler and Harold Matson, who established Mattel in 1945, basically produced picture frames in the beginning. 

The trio started with creating picture frames and dollhouse furniture in a garage in Southern California. Later on, they diversified to making dollhouses from leftover materials. Matson could not continue working as a result of ill-health and eventually sold his stake to Elliot Handler. Ruth, Elliot’s wife, filled in Matson’s shoes.

Mattel became a corporation in 1955, and the first Barbie doll came out in 1959. Did you know that doll went on to become the firm’s best-selling toy to date? Today, Mattel is the world’s biggest toymaker with a net valuation of $10 billion.

Who remembers the infamous ‘Dude, you’re getting a Dell!’ commercials? Shutterstock

15. Dell

From printers and ink to actual computers, all of these digital-era tech gadgets are worth millions. Michael Dell, the creator of Dell Computer Corporation, quit the University of Texas, Austin. He did so as a result of his desire to focus on developing computers from OEM components. Dell started business under the name PCs Limited. They year was 1984 and Dell was in his dorm room at the University of Texas, Austin. He initially manufactured processors from stock components that were compatible with IBM PCs.

Within a year, he diversified to manufacturing branded PCs, and his business started making profits in the same year. Dell continues to be one of the leading computer manufacturers in the US market with an estimated worth of more than $50 billion.

If you love motorcycles, you are familiar with this name-turned-brand. Shutterstock

14. Harley Davidson

The first Harley Davidson motorcycle model was designed and produced in 1903 by William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson in a shack. It took the duo close to two years to create a suitable bike in a log cabin in Milwaukee, Massachusetts. The Harley Davidson motorcycle saw an official launch in 1903 with significant assistance from Walter Davidson, Arthur’s brother.

However, it took another eight years for Harley and Davidson brothers to launch a full-fledged motorcycle sporting a V-Twin engine. By the end of 1920, Harley-Davidson became the world’s biggest producer and seller of motorcycles. They had dealers in over 67 countries. Harley-Davidson Inc’s revenues exceeded $5.64 billion in 2017 as a result, with assets totaling $9.973 billion in the same year. 

This London-based car company is still worth billions decades after establishment. Shutterstock

13. Lotus Cars

Lotus Cars founder Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman started producing the prototype in a stable adjacent to a London hotel in 1948. Colin was only 20 years old when he began making Lotus cars. Today, the company’s racing and sports cars find widespread use. Lotus Card Ltd is registered in the UK and has its headquarters in Norfolk County in East Anglia, England.

Following the demise of Anthony Chapman, General Motors bought Lotus Cars via its subsidiary Proton. It is presently owned by Geely, a Chinese Multinational. The car company had earned about £11.2 million in 2017, and its net worth is about £99.8 million or $25.46 billion.

This company is known for its famous slogan “Just Do It” paired with a check mark. Shutterstock

12. Nike

Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman, the duo who founded Nike, did not even have the luxury of a garage. The founders began operating out of a car’s trunk in 1964, christening their venture Blue Ribbon Sports. Initially, no retailer showed any interest in retailing their shoes, and currently, Nike is the world’s biggest manufacturer of sports accessories and apparel.

The business is not afraid to voice opinions on social matters around America. Some feel it may hurt business; however, others support it due to their strong social messages. At present, Nike has an estimated net worth of $90 billion and has earned revenues of over $37.4 billion as of May 2020.

Companies that deal with software applications will obviously shine in the digital era. Shutterstock

11. HubSpot

When Dharmesh Shah founded HubSpot together with Brian Halligan at MIT in 2006, he didn’t have the faintest idea the startup would boom. In fact, it attracted more traffic than established companies as a result of his efforts. Dharmesh Shah had founded a company before establishing HubSpot. He eventually sold it and started blogging. However, his small blog became very popular with surfers, which stimulated him to start working on HubSpot.

HubSpot is currently one of the most prominent US developer and promoter software applications relating to customer service, inbound marketing, and sales. The Cambridge-based software company offers a wide range of services. Some include CRM, SEO, web analytics, lead generation, content management, and social media marketing. HubSpot is a publicly-traded firm with a net worth of around $2 billion.

If you don’t feel like driving, just call a ride company to come pick you up. Shutterstock

10. Lyft

Logan Green and John Zimmer launched Lyft on June 9, 2012. Within a short period, they began offering stiff competition to Uber. Lyft is presently the 2nd largest ride-sharing service provider in the US after Uber, with a market share of 30%. From its launch in San Francisco, Lyft has raised about $5 billion from investors with deep pockets such as Alphabet and General Motors.

The massive infusion of capital facilitated Lyft to issue its first IPO on March 29, 2019, which enabled the company to raise $2.34 billion. Lyft happened to be the first and foremost ride-sharing firm to issue an IPO. Lyft a valuation of approximately $29 billion in March 2019. The company operates app software offering ride-sharing of bicycles and motorized scooters, vehicle hire, and food delivery services. Headquartered in San Francisco, Lyft offers its services across 644 cities and towns in the US.

Although smoking nothing is the best option, Juul Labs found a huge increase in sales thanks to the concept of e-cigarettes. Shutterstock

9. Juul Labs

Juul Labs, Inc, an American e-cigarette company that came into being on May 22, 2015, is currently valued at $24 billion. Co-founded by James Monsees and Adam Bowen, Juul Labs split-off from Pax Labs in 2017. Its headquarters are in San Francisco. Altria Group became the biggest shareholding company by acquiring a 35% stake in Juul Labs on December 20, 2018, for which the founders received a massive $12.8 billion.

James and Adam doled out $2 billion among Juul’s 1,500 employees, which Altria had paid separately as a bonus. Since its foundation, Juul’s has had a meteoric rise because of its aggressive marketing strategy. Within a year of Juul’s launch, overall sales skyrocketed to a phenomenal 700% as a result of said marketing.

With the current ongoing crisis, it only makes sense that a shopping delivery app would make billions. Shutterstock

8. Instacart

This billion-dollar business is an American on-demand grocery delivery app developed by Apoorva Mehta, Brandon Leonardo, and Max Mullen. Founded in 2012 and headquartered in San Francisco, Instacart offers grocery delivery and pickup services across 5,500 cities across the US and Canada. Subscribers can place orders directly from the Instacart website or download the app on their mobiles.

Instacart has partnered with large retailers and chain grocery stores such as Wal-mart Stores, Metro, and Safeway to enable customers to choose groceries from their preferred retailers. The net worth of Instacart is estimated to be $8 billion.    

One could assume a company like this would blow up in the 21st century. Shutterstock

7. DoorDash

DoorDash is a well-known on-demand food delivery service. It was co-founded by Stanford University students Evan Moore, Andy Fang, and Tony Xu. This billion-dollar business is a technology-oriented company. It makes most of the logistics services for delivering food to customers by picking it up from restaurants. The company became operational in July 2013, and by May 2019 was offering services in over 4000 cities.

The on-demand food delivery service offers its subscribers the leeway of ordering from practically anywhere. You can pick from over 340,000 restaurants and delis across Canada, Australia, and the USA. The cofounders of DoorDash are mulling over issuing an IPO in 2020; they face stiff competition from Seamless, UberEats, and Postmates. The company, being a private enterprise, does not disclose financials. However, Tony Xu, one of the founders, revealed to Forbes that it was yet to make profits.

The founders were considering raising money by expanding the services and launching new products. Presently, DoorDash is worth nearly $16 billion as a result of their recent upswing. It is the most-used third-party food delivery service in the US due to that success.

The online retailer has taken over toy companies, clothing stores, and other traditional brick-and-mortar fronts. Shutterstock

6. Amazon

People are in the habit of placing online orders for everyday needs. Those same people know that Amazon is the largest web-based retailer as a result of its success. Jeff Bezos established the startup in the garage. It all started in 1994 at his home in Washington. He began with retailing books, selling the first book in July of 1995. After two years, he issued an IPO because of his efforts.

Bezos quit his job at an investment firm in Wall Street due to his desire to lay the foundations for Amazon.com. At the outset, Bezos ran his online bookshop from his garage with assistance from two employees. Afterward, he started working from a two-bedroom house. When the business started flourishing due to rising revenues, the address became his headquarters.

The online retail outlet that began its journey selling books now promotes and sells almost everything from salt to software. Right from inception, Amazon has blazed a trail in e-commerce and inspired many others to follow suit. Since Amazon started doing business, the online retailer has grown exponentially and phenomenally as a result and is currently valued at a whopping $171.6 billion.

The net worth of the founder, Sarah, is expected to be about $1.1 billion. Shutterstock

5. Spanx

After graduating from Florida State University, Sara Blakely took a job at the Walt Disney World Resort. However, she left the job and began selling as a door-to-door saleswoman. Sarah had trouble working in Florida’s hot and humid weather.

She failed to find thin nylon tights that could be rolled up quickly and had stitched toes. This inconsistency in pantyhose stimulated her to set up Spanx as a result. It started in her home in 2000, for which she invested her nest-egg of $5000. Sara was only 27 when she relocated to Atlanta for researching and developing a unique style of pantyhose.

With the help of her mother and some close friends, Blakely had finished creating a prototype within a year. Sara attempted to package the work uniquely and unconventionally; the businesswoman selected the red color that symbolized confidence and boldness. Sara did the marketing and promotion with her boyfriend, who left his job as a medical consultant to assist her. Finally, the Spanx brand was launched from her Atlanta apartment following a Neiman Marcus Group representative conference. Slowly and gradually, Spanx became a household name, dealing chiefly in pantyhose, underwear, and hosiery items for women.

As Spanx is a private enterprise wholly owned by Blakely, she does not publish its annual report. Therefore, there are no official figures of revenues earned by Spanx in a year.  

Although this apparel company is famous, did you know it started as a basement gig? Shutterstock

4. Under Armor

Kevin Plank, the creator of Under Armor, was only 24 when he designed and created his first sample of the sportswear. Kevin, a former football player, found it too uncomfortable to take off his t-shirt drenched in sweat underneath his team jersey. He observed that his shorts, which he used to put on during practice, stayed thoroughly dry.

The hygroscopic quality of the compression shorts motivated him to create a t-shirt prototype from moisture-wicking fabric. After Kevin earned his graduate degree from the University of Maryland, he produced the original specimen. He made the breakthrough in the basement of his grandmother’s home in Washington, DC. He gave away the first few shirts he had made to his friends and teammates who went on to play in the NFL wearing the moisture-wicking tees.

Initially, Plank traveled across the East Coast to promote and establish his sportswear brand. He clenched his debut deal towards the close of 1996 worth $17,000, and there was no looking back. Within a few months, he moved out of the Washington basement and shifted to Baltimore, Maryland, which continues to be Under Armor’s headquarters.

Under Armor also makes sports accessories such as protective kit, caps, gloves, bags, and much more. Under Armor’s revenues totaled $5.22 billion. The company’s market cap was worth more than $10.7 billion in 2018.

This notorious company is known for using the letter ‘i’ before product names, such as the iPhone, but you already knew that. Shutterstock

3. Apple

Steve Jobs teamed up with Steve Wozniak to create the first Apple PC blueprint in 1976. Steve was astute enough to realize that Wozniak’s obsession with computers could be effectively transformed to a lucrative venture.

The duo got going in the garage of Jobs’ parents’ home in Los Altos, California. They first assembled 50 Apple I computers for a local trader. It took them about a month to make all the components. They were paid $500 for their first order. Over the years, both the tech wizards upgraded the technology, developed new products, and stayed with innovative thinking. They made Apple Inc. the largest tech company worldwide as a result of their hard work. 

Today Apple Inc. is a multinational tech firm with its headquarters in Cupertino, California. They operate 511 retail stores worldwide. Apple designs, manufactures, and promotes premium quality computer software, consumer electronics, and online services. The tech behemoth’s annual global revenues were $260.17 billion in 2019, making it the world’s most valuable company.  

Apple became the first publicly-listed company in the US, with a valuation exceeding $1 trillion in August 2018 because of their position. As of August 2020, Apple was valued at $2 trillion, the first US-based multinational to attain that mark. Though Steve Jobs passed away, his vision continues to inspire.

The Google platform consists of multiple uses from emails to search engines. Shutterstock

2. Google

Of all globally-renowned tech companies that originated in a garage, Google is the most well-known. Larry Page and Sergey Brin teamed up to design Google in their dorm. All Sergey and Larry wanted to do was simplify searching for anything with a search engine.

In those days, the majority of search engines, including Yahoo!, demonstrated the ‘search term’ several times on a page. However, Page and Brin turned the search process on its head by introducing the PageRank algorithm as a result of their new way of thinking. In no time, the PageRank system became the exclusive hallmark of Google. The groundwork for Google was laid in 1998 in a Menlo Park garage rented out to them by Susan Wojcicki. Google was therefore up and running five months after Larry and Sergey started on the project.

The duo attempted to sell Google to Excite for a paltry $1 million, which was turned down. Had Excite accepted the proposal then the company would have been rolling in money as Alphabet (Google’s parent company) as a result. This company is worth more than $1 trillion. Google is now synonymous with the term ‘search engine.’ It is easily the most popular search engine globally because of its position.

Google is headquartered in Mountain View, California. This billion-dollar company employs over 115,000 professionals. With an individual net worth exceeding $30 billion, Sergey Brin and Larry Page are two of the wealthiest people globally.  

This company dominates the tech industry from computers and software to emails and video games – and so much more. Shutterstock

1. Microsoft

Another US multinational tech company that had its beginnings in a garage is Microsoft. In 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen joined hands to start designing the infrastructure of Microsoft in a garage in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Both Bill and Paul quit college to therefore devote all their time to developing and programming software.

The garage where Gates and Allen worked together was not spacious enough for even two adults. On top of that, they hardly any resources due to their lack of funding. However, their lack of resources and adequate working space was more than made up for due to their exceptional programming skills.

Paul and Bill exploited their programming expertise to install Microsoft’s first operating system thanks to their skill. After that, they did R&D for more sophisticated and complex software systems.

Today, more than 80% of all workstations and processors run on different Microsoft office applications and suites as a result of their successes. This enables the corporation to rake in annual revenues of approximately $93 billion as a result. Along with Apple, Facebook, Alphabet, and Amazon, Microsoft is one of the ‘Big Five’ companies that dominate the US’s IT sector. From 2010 onwards, this technological giant has become one of the most valuable publicly traded companies worldwide thanks to their success. In 2018, Microsoft deposed Apple by reclaiming its position as the most valuable publicly listed company globally.

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